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 Tabbing Earl Scruggs

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South Africa
60 posts
since 11/1/11

08/12/2017 11:35:25 View Markdc's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Just been listening to the 1949 original Foggy Mountain Breakdown (which starts with a pinch, by the way)
There must be somd way to TAB bluegrass, and Earl Scruggs in particular, to reflect the emphasis on notes that makes it bluegrass. The 4/4 time in the instruction TABS and slow videos just doesn't do it

TexasbanjoPlayers Union Member


United States
19789 posts since 8/3/03

08/12/2017 11:56:11 View Texasbanjo's Photo Albums View Texasbanjo's Blog Reply with Quote

Jack Hatfield highlights melody notes in his instruction books so you'll know where the melody is.  That's about the only thing I know to do to emphasize in tabulation.  Other than that, listen to the song, hear the notes that stand out and try to mimic that sound.  

It's difficult if you're not familiar with a song to be able to play it as it should be played if you are only looking at tab and have no idea how it sounds.  Try to find the song and listen to it.  It may not be the exact same arrangement as your tab, but it will give you a basic idea of the melody.  Then take it from there. 

Try to find tabs that also have midis with them (like Tabledit) where you can see the tab and listen to the song at the same time.  That might also help considerably. 

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Old Hickory

United States
8205 posts since 6/2/08

08/12/2017 13:15:50View Old Hickory's MP3 Archive View Old Hickory's Classified Ads View Old Hickory's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

That's what a recorded reference and your ears are for.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 08/12/2017 13:16:00

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United States
717 posts since 5/5/06

08/12/2017 16:01:24View NINJO's MP3 Archive View NINJO's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Buy a midi banjo and play what you hear. I can tab immediately to my computer just by picking. Straight to tabedit.

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RioStatPlayers Union Member

United States
3929 posts since 10/12/09

08/12/2017 17:44:25 View RioStat's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Tabs can only show you the notes as interpreted and transcribed by the tabs author.

It's up to you to emhasize, accent, and turn the tab into music.

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United States
396 posts since 9/13/06

08/12/2017 20:15:35 Reply with Quote

Originally posted by NINJO

Buy a midi banjo and play what you hear. I can tab immediately to my computer just by picking. Straight to tabedit.

Ninjo, where can you get a midi banjo?  Do you know if there is also a midi mandolin available?  Thanks!



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Tim13Players Union Member

United States
2905 posts since 4/1/08

08/12/2017 20:50:09View Tim13's MP3 Archive View Tim13's Classified Ads View Tim13's Photo Albums View Tim13's Blog Reply with Quote

Since you're talking about the 1949/1950 version, pay very close attention to the so called "foggy mountain breakdown rolls" and hammer ons during Earls first two times through.  This is an area where people tabbing it out either get lazy, or just don't realize what's going on, so when people try to capture the flavor, it just doesn't sound right. 

There are so many subtleties in Earls playing, I don't think tabbing it out in any way possible, could convey what's going on.  The only way is to listen, over, and over.


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rbfour5Players Union Member

United States
621 posts since 11/9/10

08/12/2017 21:15:57 View rbfour5's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Don't rely on the tab- it's a good guide. Let your ear tell you what your right hand needs to do. The tab can be accurate as heck, but that won't mean your going to get the little nuances of what any banjo player is doing. I trust me ear more than tab.

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United States
9666 posts since 2/12/11

08/13/2017 07:22:09View kmwaters's MP3 Archive View kmwaters's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Buy the book Scruggs Corner here: You can add it to your cart on the right side of the screen.

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